My right hand offers a warm handshake while the left is at my hip, ready to draw my blade. Such is the nature of respect in my life. Respect is the ultimate force in my relationships with others. Those that I respect, I keep relatively off-limits to my manipulation and destructive forces. However, I am no fool. I realize that anyone, for any number of reasons, can become a liability. I’d rather be scheming plans that will hopefully never see the light of day than to be flatfooted should the need arise.
I respect few. Only the intelligent, the savvy, and the equal need apply. These people have earned my respect as exemplary individuals worthy of it. No one earns my trust, however. There will always be items that I withhold and aces up my sleeve. Do not misunderstand me, I do not have a paranoid fear of being bested by these individuals; I merely always keep advantage by my side. I would rather have my “knife” in waiting than to have no exit strategy should anyone try to gain the upper hand on me.
Why would I “waste” the energy for restraint with these individuals? Just as wearing a mask is a conscious decision, so is marking people off-limits. The reasons are twofold.
Everyone needs allies. I don’t mean in a shallow sense. I want allies that are strong themselves and can do more than just breathe my air. I could have many allies that I do not respect, but they are simply undependable, stunted, and have a lack of ability that could be a liability as well. The strong surround themselves with others who are strong. I expect as much or more from those I respect as they do from me. I hope to never be in a position where I must depend on these allies rather than my own hands, but I am not foolish enough to believe that I will never need assistance in a time of need.
The other reason is more nebulous but is more important to me. Those that are off-limits are off-limits by choice. It may not be advantageous for myself in many respects to limit myself, but I have an inexplicable sense of honor toward those that I feel deserve it. I do not know why I have such a fixation on such an intangible, but it is present. It is almost as if I am tending to an endangered species. Its rarity mandates reverence. Such is the person that I respect, for they are equally rare.
I respect those that deserve it in my eyes. I do this out of honor and out of strategic gamesmanship, but I never forget that anyone, especially those intelligent and savvy enough to garner my respect, can become a parasite or threat themselves. Because of this, my respect is a guarded one. Until they lose my respect, they have nothing to fear. Should they lose my respect, I am ready to go for the throat.